Filene’s Basement president Mark Shulman has left the company in the aftermath of the chain’s acquisition by Syms Corp.
The Secaucus, N.J.-based off-pricer, which acquired Filene’s Basement for $65 million in June, has been integrating the retailer’s back-office, buying, sourcing and distribution operations.
Filene’s Basement did not announce a new president. Syms Corp. president and chief executive officer Marcy Syms could not be reached for comment, but it is believed she has assumed Shulman’s responsibilities.
“I am absolutely ready to take some time off and do something else,” Shulman, whose long career has included stints as president and ceo of Ann Taylor and president of Henri Bendel, told WWD Wednesday. “Marcy and I had discussed a long time ago that I would stay awhile and see how things were working. We’ve got some very good merchants. The strategy is clear and well thought.”
Market sources said the company has a new co-branding strategy using both the Syms and Filene’s Basement nameplates at certain locations, including the Fairfield, Conn., and Norwood, Mass., units. At those sites, the Syms team handles the men’s, kids’ and men’s and women’s shoes businesses, and Filene’s Basement deals with all the women’s ready-to-wear, accessories and intimates. It’s an unusual strategy, though Filene’s Basement, which had been owned by Schottenstein Corp., has done some cobranding with another Schottenstein business, DSW shoes. Shulman would not comment on the strategy.
Although some off-pricers such as TJX Cos. and Ross Stores have been thriving, Boston-based Filene’s Basement filed for Chapter 11 protection on May 4 and was acquired by Syms on June 18. After the deal was announced, Marcy Syms characterized Shulman as a “knowledgeable merchant who has the trust of his buying staff” and added that she expected to retain most jobs.
Of the total $65 million Syms paid for the 23-unit Filene’s Basement, Vornado Realty Trust provided $16.8 million to terminate the Downtown Crossing lease with Filene’s Basement in Boston. Vornado supplied another $8.2 million to change the terms of the lease at the Union Square store in Manhattan. Syms and Filene’s Basement combined generate almost $600 million in annual sales.
Shulman ran Filene’s Basement for seven years. Previously, he was chief operating officer at Retail Brand Alliance, with responsibility for Brooks Brothers, as well as Casual Corner, which was liquidated. Before that, he held chief merchandising slots at Talbots, Stage Stores, Younkers and Aca Joe. He started his career at Bloomingdale’s, where he rose to divisional vice president and helped launch the store’s bridge business.
Shulman said the last several years had been particularly tough for him, given the business climate and the Filene’s Basement bankruptcy and ownership change.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast